Florida delegation celebrates as House committee approves Water Resources Development Act

everglades 04-21
That measure will now head to the full House for a vote.

Several members of the Florida congressional delegation are praising the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for advancing legislation to help regulate Florida’s waterways and allow for additional construction aimed at protecting the Everglades.

The panel approved the updated Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) Wednesday. That measure will now head to the full House for a vote.

“Water is critical for life and solid infrastructure is critical to Florida’s economy which is dependent on moving goods and people efficiently and effectively,” said GOP U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster.

“This legislation authorizes funding for critical ports, inland waterways, locks, dams, flood protection, ecosystem restoration, and other water resources infrastructure important to Florida and our nation.”

The bill also contained language that would ensure construction on the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir project would start on time.

Earlier this year, several Republicans lawmakers criticized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for designated the EAA reservoir as a “new start” project. That designation diverted money that could have been used to begin construction in 2020, instead pushing that launch until 2021.

Congress had authority to override the funding diversion. Criticism of the Army Corps’ decision became bipartisan as lawmakers hammered out the final language of WRDA, as Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell pushed back against the designation.

“This was frankly an absurd and harmful interpretation that I was determined to address in this bill, and I am grateful to the committee leadership for working with me on it,” Mucarsel-Powell said.

“With today’s bill, we make it very clear to the Corps that they must begin construction of the reservoir at its earliest opportunity, and they are not to wait for a ‘new start’ designation.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast is also supporting the legislation as it moves through the House, citing its effect on discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

A Mast amendment was rejected by the committee, however. As reported by E&E Daily, the amendment “called on the Army Corps to make public health and human safety a top priority when managing Lake Okeechobee.”

Mast has pushed for Lake O levels to be lower, which would reduce the need for discharges that can spread toxic algal blooms to other waterways.

Webster and Mucarsel-Powell pushed back against the amendment, suggesting the language could pigeon-hole the Army Corps into keeping those lake levels lower. Having less water in the lake can cause problems for farmers and municipalities that rely on the lake’s water.

Mast, however, pushed back against the characterization, according to E&E. “The request of this amendment was not about lowering lake levels,” Mast said before withdrawing the amendment.

The South Florida Water Coalition also released a statement Thursday backing the overall bill.

“While this bill has additional steps in the legislative process before final approval, we are pleased that all stakeholder interests — including drinking water — are being carefully considered,” the statement read.

“The South Florida Water Coalition congratulates and thanks U.S. House leadership for passing a WRDA bill that ensures the water supply for more than six million South Floridians can be preserved.”

Added Julio Fuentes, President of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, “With so much uncertainty during the current COVID-19 pandemic, Hispanic business leaders across South Florida appreciate that the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has advanced a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill that can help ensure an available, stable water supply for our region.”

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704